Monday, 29 November 2010

Looking for the unusual at the Saatchi Gallery

Let's get back to London, still some more photo's to come. Everyone has heard of the name Saatchi. Charles Saatchi opened his gallery in 1985 , to exhibit his collection of contemporary art. After several moves it is now located at the Duke of York's HQ, in Kings Road, Chelsea.

I was looking forward to my visit here, and I was not disappointed, I loved it. It was a bright and sunny day, opposite the main entrance is the playing fields of a nearby school, the tiny tots were enjoying a good old fashioned run about, and relay races, followed by a game of footie.

The gallery is free to go in, a few huge snowballs were scattered on the grass to the side of the entrance. Not real snow of course, nothing is real at Saatchi, everything is tantalisingly confusing.

In the courtyard to the side is this modern Christmas tree.

Here are some of the exhibits which caught my eye. Please excuse the shadows on this first one. It was a large class case in the middle of the room, and inside were lots of different kinds of dead insects, suspended by near invisible thread. The artist had created a strange scene where the smaller insects were placed onto the larger ones giving the impression that they were hitching a lift.

This one is a lot of small boxes, all individually made, inside a larger box, which was hanging on the wall. This probably doesn't look very much by itself, but there were several other pieces where the larger box was of a different design. It was quite interesting.

If you have been to the mountains in Spain you will know what this is. Some of the burial grounds are like filing cabinets, the bodies are put into drawers and stacked up. At the front of each one is it's own little window which the families decorate in remembrance of the departed. Here we have 91 windows, and no bodies, thank goodness, they completely covered one whole wall in the room.

I have posted just one example of the artists work here, she has used old photographs as the starting point and added embroidery thread to draw the viewers attention to one specific spot on the photo. This one is the eye of the child. It looks rather surreal, I found myself fascinated by it. Each stitch is perfectly placed at precisely the same distance as the one before it.

This exhibit was called Black Lines, indeed that's all it was. All over the place, hanging from the ceiling. Like a spiders web but with straight lines rather than curved. Some kind of plastic material was used.

Great clumps of it that you could walk between.

This next one is a bit of trickery, that's me looking into a mirror. What you see behind me are more black lines, and it appears that the three cubes are laid on the floor around me. Not so. They are attached to the mirror itself. A half size cube is stuck on the mirror so that the reflection makes it a perfect square. Two of the cubes are several feet off the ground. No matter how closely you look you cannot see how the plastic is stuck to the mirror.

The next four photographs are in sequence, at first glance the exhibit looks like a digital clock, and once a minute the numbers change.

The hands whizz round....

And round, and round...

And then stop. Have you spotted it? There are twenty four conventional clocks here, stacked on top of each other. It took the artist eighteen months to fine tune the hands so they stop in exactly the right position. Clever eh!

When I saw this next exhibit, I thought, oooh look, carrier bags, just my thing. Twelve of them pinned to the wall.

Each one has been ironed and a length of string stitched into them. The note next to them said they are for sale. Guess how much, steady yourself, you're gonna faint. £235, cough splutter, shock horror.

Quickly moving on, this was a fascinating piece. A real stuffed goat, with it's head and foot embedded through the clay ornament and emerging out of the other side. A very unusual pose.

My favourite installation is this last one. When you approach it along a walkway you emerge onto a balcony, overlooking the room to look down on it. It baffled me for a while, as I peered at it trying to work it out. Eventually my curiosity got the better of me and I had to ask the attendant. There appears to be nothing there, an empty room, but look closer. What you see as you look down is the reflection of the ceiling in what looks like a gigantic mirror. When you look up you see exactly the same thing as when you look down, a mirror image.
It isn't a mirror, the whole room is full of used sump oil, about a metre deep. To the left of this picture are steps down to a passageway through the oil, which comes to the top of the barrier. People used to be able to walk along it but they closed it off, because they kept putting their fingers into it.

Looking down you think the oil is a lot deeper than it really is and it is very tempting to throw something into it to make a ripple, just to satisfy your mind that it really is oil. Because you think you are looking into the bottom of a pit your eyes tell you it is very deep indeed, at least the same depth as from the top of the oil level to the ceiling. But it's an illusion. You are not looking through the oil because you can't, you are looking at the top of it. It's an ingenious piece of work. There is more about it here with photographs.

The Saatchi website is here
I loved the Saatchi Gallery, it was everything I expected it to be.


  1. Wow, amazing love the boxes on the mirror, and the sump oil, took me sometime and hard looking (so to speak to see the oil). Very clever, we can all look at a piece of art and say I could do that, but what makes it art is we never thought of it.

  2. Some of this I find a bit wierd. Can`t seem to see where the art is, lol. Maybe I`m too simple. I like simpler art, things I can actually find some sense in. I`m glad you could enjoy it.

  3. As my brother would say "you're having a laugh aren't you" regarding the shopping bags:) Linda xx

  4. Some seriously striking ideas here.

    The Sump Oil installation is most peculiar. It took me a few tries to work out that the walkway was below the level of the oil.
    ...and does it smell oily?

  5. It is smelly, Cyberkim, you can smell it before you get there. Yes, the floor of the walkway through it is below the level of the oil. It's a shame that it was closed, I would have liked to step onto it.